Make Blush Pop On Dark Skin Tones: Here's How

Recently, something occurred to us while we were trolling for the best celebrity beauty looks (we do that sometimes). We realized that some of our favorite darker-skinned stars, such as Lupita Nyong'o and Orange Is The New Black's Danielle Brooks, have been rocking the heck out of some bright blush shades. We love how these beautiful women use the right color of rouge to enhance their skin tones, and to bring out their amazing bone structure to boot.
So, we decided that a very serious makeup investigation was in order — they happen around these parts, more often than you'd think — and reached out to celebrity makeup-artist extraordinaire Merrell Hollis, who gave us the lowdown on how to make blush seriously pop. Read on to snag all of Hollis' best tips, and scope the most vibrant, bring-down-the-house shades that you need to try ASAP.

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Photo: Rob Latour/REX USA.
Hollis urges the importance of starting with properly prepped skin. Says the makeup artist: "My first tip is to apply your foundation really well, and then set it with a powder, to ensure that your blush really pops once you apply it." We're obsessed with Annie Ilonzeh's lovely, warm flush here. Looking for this type of hue? Read on.
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So, on to the blush. Hollis assures that picking the right shade is easier than you might think. "The best way to learn your undertones is to look on the inside of your wrists, or at the palms of your hands. They will either be yellow or pink." Surprisingly, Hollis recommends choosing a shade that contrasts with your undertones — apparently, choosing a shade that is too close to the color of your skin can mean that the shade will disappear.

Black Opal Baked Blush Powder, $6, available at Black Opal.
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Photo: MediaPunch Inc/REX USA.
If you're concerned about how your blush jibes with your overall makeup look, Hollis recommends starting with a brown-toned bronzer, applied evenly all over the face. The makeup artist assures that this step will give your blush extra punch and warmth, which will add up to a natural-looking glow.
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If you have cooler undertones (as Brooks does), "a blue-red would look great, for a natural-looking flush," says Hollis. Or, you can create contrast with an orange or a peach.

Marc Jacobs Shameless Bold Blush in Tantalizing, $30, available at Sephora.
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Photo: Gregory Pace/BEImages.
As far as application techniques, Hollis recommends that all women, regardless of their face shape, concentrate their blush on the apples of their cheeks, for the most convincing flush.
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For women with skin tones like Lupita Nyong'o's, Hollis recommends bright oranges and reds. "They look a little bit intense," explains the makeup artist. "But, as soon as you put it on the skin, it'll be a perfect contrast."

Make Up For Ever Powder Blush in Scarlet, $21, available at Sephora.
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Photo: Everett Collection/REX USA.
If your blush still isn't giving you the impact that you're looking for, Hollis advises starting your look with a cream blush that matches your powder. Apply the cream blush to the apples of your cheeks, and then set the product with your matching powder blush — you're guaranteed to end up with a glow.
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If your skin tone is more yellow-based, like actress Anika Noni Rose, Hollis says that pinks stand out well. He loves this impossibly bright fuschia by Black Up.

Black Up Blush in NBL01, $25, available at Black Up Cosmetics.
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Photo: Rob Latour/REX USA.
For a different look, Hollis says that bronzer can create a cool effect when used instead of your regular blush. "You want to go for a bronzer that has a bit of a red or orange tint, to make sure that it shows up, and doesn't just blend into your skin," he says.
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Hollis' favorite blush shade of all time for women with darker skin tones is Taj Mahal by NARS — it has the perfect hints of orange and gold, which complement deeper skin like nobody's business.

NARS Blush in Taj Mahal, $29, available at NARS.
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